Milky Way and Andromeda will merge and tie the knot as destined.
Four billions from now, our galaxy and our neighboring spiral galaxy will collide as destined. This event will be the largest galactic event in our planet’s history.
Andromeda Galaxy also known as M31, our neighbor which is located 2.5 million light years away (each light year is about 6 trillion mileS) from the Earth is the closest to our galaxy. It is also the only galaxy that’s visible to the naked eye – only when the sky is clear, dark (appears as a smudge ) and it’s headed our way.
It’s not a big deal – Galaxy collisions happens all the time, it’s part of how Universe evolve. Infact, this won’t be the first time Andromeda and Milky way are experiencing collisions. In fact, Andromeda’s spiral shape is said to have formed as a result of collision. It seems, it had engulfed a huge galaxy which formed a “ring of dust” at its centre (that’s what Astronomers believe anyway). Like our galaxy, Andromeda also has a massive black hole located at its heart.
We may not be alive to see it, but aren’t you curious to know what it would be like when it collides? Oh, I am! I am even curious to know how it would look from Earth when the collision starts! Lets know few facts before diving into its impacts,
Andromeda Galaxy containing about 1 trillion stars and the Milky Way containing about 300 billion stars. On a clear night, when you look up into the night sky the most you can see from any one point on the Earth is about 2,500 stars.
Both Andromeda and Milky Way are racing towards one another by gravity at 250,000 miles per hour.
Even though Andromeda is larger than our own galaxy, Milky Way has higher mass.
The collision won’t stop until the black holes in the center of each galaxies merge forming one Elliptical galaxy.
It is going to be a catastrophic event – all part of evolution, stars gets thrown out of galaxy, few will be destroyed as they crash into the monstrous black holes.
The black hole merging will result in the formation of stars which will move into higher orbits over the course of million years.
As per NASA, It seems, this galactic event will also swallow few other smaller galaxies which includes M33 – the Triangulum galaxy and there’s a small chance it will hit the Milky Way first.
Last not the least, an honorable mention about Edwin Hubble – It’s using the telescope that was named after him and his math (Hubble’s Law) – Astronomers discovered this event.
“After nearly a century of speculation about the future destiny of Andromeda and our Milky Way, we at last have a clear picture of how events will unfold over the coming billions of years,” said Sangmo Tony Sohn of STScI
Oh don’t worry, by the time these two get close enough to collide, our very own Sun would have had turned into a giant red star and had already roasted up Earth leaving no trace of life. So we have bigger problems to worry about than a natural collision.
Source: space.com, dailymail – UK, phys.org, Forbes, businessinsider.com, National Geographic